Friday, March 19, 2010
Understated Courtship, Bluebird Style
For a full ten minutes by the clock, from 8:50-9:00 a.m., my bluebird pair sat on the same dogwood branch, three feet apart, out-coying each other. I watched through binoculars from the house. They faced me, she, silent and still, he, preening his feathers with his beak. She appeared to give him no heed, but when he turned on the branch to face the opposite direction, so did she, where they sat for many seconds in more still silence, blue and gray backs to me. With riveted attention to each other, every movement from one elicited the same from the other. Sometimes he turned first, sometimes she, at odd intervals every minute or so, making sure they always faced the same direction.
Their game was a model of elegance in flirtation---that of feigned ignorance, yet heightened awareness. Eventually they flew off together, this marking the first mating behavior I've observed between them. I've seen them often since first sighting on March 8, but always individually. They come to the feeder independently of each other.
Throughout the day he traveled from dogwood branch to feeder to long slow perches near their house of choice. I only saw her two more times--once at the feeder and once peering from inside the house and flying out of it toward the woods. She's gone from the house more than in it. My guess is they have mated recently but she has not yet laid her eggs. After she left the house, he settled on it once, looked inside, then flew away in the same direction she had just gone. Checking for eggs? Looking for her? dkm